A group of University of York students dressed in character entertained visitors to the Museum Gardens over the weekend of 23 and 24 June, with stories inspired by Roman and Medieval York and extinct animals.
The Storytelling Festival, organised in conjunction with the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, was part of the University’s Summer Term Challenge 2012. The scheme allowed student volunteers to demonstrate their commitment to the local community, while gaining valuable work experience to enhance their future career prospects.
This ambitious project is about helping students to develop their skills, enhance their employability and gain valuable experience in the sectors that are of particular interest to them
Dr Kate Harper
Run in partnership with the University’s Careers Service, the Summer Term Challenge involved twenty teams of students taking on challenges such as collecting oral accounts for the York 800 celebrations and running events for the York Festival of Ideas. Students have also worked with businesses to deliver York Children’s University activities, and created resources for charities including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society.
More than 160 undergraduate students from the Departments of Education and English and Related Literature took part in the scheme, working with local heritage, cultural and education organisations.
Dr Kate Harper, Acting Manager of the University’s Community and Volunteering Unit, said: “The University has fantastic students who have a lot to offer the city and community. This ambitious project is about helping students to develop their skills, enhance their employability and gain valuable experience in the sectors that are of particular interest to them, most notably the heritage and cultural industries and the education sector.
“Projects are designed to relate to students’ academic work, enhancing their classroom experience while building up their portfolio of practical skills.”
The Storytelling Festival, which featured eighteen students delivering four, hour-long performances over the weekend, filled the Museum Garden’s outdoor storytelling area across every show. The stories, which were developed and written by the students, were inspired by exhibits from the Museum’s collections, and included comically narrated tales of evolution, a carefully choreographed sword fight in Roman York, and a Medieval murder Mystery starring members of the city’s guilds in 1212.
Kate Bull, 20, a second-year English student, said “I really enjoyed the creative freedom we were given from both the University and the York Museums Trust – we were really allowed to let our creative juices flow. I experienced work within the Museum and Heritage Sector, which is something I now want to pursue in later life, and learnt how to deal with professionals and organise events.”
First year English student Philip Watson, 20, added “I learnt many valuable skills that will be useful for jobs after graduation, such as how to work with a large group of people with different skill sets and personalities, and I gained confidence in my ability to plan and work co-operatively.”
In total, 163 students worked on 20 projects as part of the Summer Term Challenge 2012. These also include creating a new children’s guidebook for York’s new visitor attraction Chocolate: York’s Sweet Story, placements at the Danelaw Centre for Living History, bringing the key research breakthroughs from the University of York’s 50 year history to life, and working on a digital recording project with English PEN, a human rights charity whose work promotes literature.